There is an ongoing plot to extend the tenure of Justices of Nigeria’s Supreme Court from its current 70-year limit to 75 years.
The plot, according to sources in the privy, is to retain the Justices of the Supreme Court until after the next political dispensation. Part of the agenda behind the plot is to avoid a situation that recently played out during the 2023 presidential election dispute where the Supreme Court almost encountered a crisis in forming a quorum in empanelling the Justices to adjudicate the election petitions.
It was also gathered that the plot is to reward some Justices, who sat on the panel of the 2023 presidential election petition, especially at the Court of Appeal, but who have now been elevated to the Supreme Court.
If the plot sails through, the design may be a part of the 2027 election scheming as these same sets of judges would still be in the Supreme Court to attend to any likely litigation.
The plot, sources say, is being promoted by elements in the presidency and the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayade Ariwoola.
According to multiple information, corrobating the plan, the objective is to have the Justices of the apex court, including the newly sworn in Justices, to be in office for the 2027 election cycle.
Olukayode Ariwoola, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), is expected to swear in eleven new justices of the Supreme Court, who have been cleared by the Senate.
President Bola Tinubu had in December last year asked the Senate to confirm 11 judges of the Court of Appeal as Justices of the Supreme Court.
The president’s request followed the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) for the elevation of the justices.
The Supreme Court has been depleted to just 10 Justices after the death of Justice Centus Nweze and the retirements of Justice Amina Augie and Justice Dattijo Muhammad.
The 11 confirmed Justices will soon join the 10 serving Justices to form the full complement of 21 Justices of the Supreme Court as stipulated by the law.
The Justices are namely Jummai Hannatu Sankey, Chidiebere Nwaoma Uwa, Chioma Egondu Nwosu-Iheme, Haruna Simon Tsammani, Moore Aseimo A. Adumein, Obande Festus Ogbuinya, and Stephen Jonah Adah. Others are Habeeb Adewale O. Abiru, Jamilu Yammama Tukur, Abubakar Sadiq Umar, and Mohammed Baba Idris.
The current CJN, Justice Olukayade Ariwoola, is due for retirement on the 22nd of August next year to pave the way for Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun to take over the headship of the apex court.
However, some elements in the presidency are favourably disposed to the continuation of Justice Ariwoola as CJN, thus necessitating the plot to extend the retirement age of the Justices to 75 years, thus paving the way for the current CJN to be in office beyond 2027.